Front Matter The Lady Roma The She-Wolf The Twin Boys Numitor's Grandson The Sacred Birds The Founding of Rome The Sabine Maidens The Tarpeian Rock The Mysterious Gate The King Disappears The Peace-Loving King Horatius Slays His Sister Pride of Tullus Hostilius King Who Fought and Prayed The Faithless Friend A Slave Becomes a King Cruel Deed of Tullia Fate of the Town of Gabii Books of the Sibyl Industry of Lucretia Death of Lucretia Sons of Brutus Horatius Cocles Mucius Burns Right Hand The Divine Twins The Tribunes Coriolanus and His Mother The Roman Army in a Trap The Hated Decemvirs The Death of Verginia The Friend of the People Camillus Captures Veii The Statue of the Goddess Schoolmaster Traitor Battle of Allia The Sacred Geese The City Is Rebuilt Volscians on Fire Battle on the Anio The Curtian Lake Dream of the Two Consuls The Caudine Forks Caudine Forks Avenged Fabius among the Hills Battle of Sentinum Son of Fabius Loses Battle Pyrrhus King of the Epirots Elephants at Heraclea Pyrrthus and Fabricius Pyrrhus is Defeated Romans Build a Fleet Battle of Ecnomus Roman Legions in Africa Regulus Taken Prisoner Romans Conquer the Gauls The Boy Hannibal Hannibal Invades Italy Hannibal Crosses the Alps Battle of Trebia Battle of Lake Trasimenus Hannibal Outwits Fabius Fabius Wins Two Victories Battle of Cannae Despair of Rome Defeat of Hasdrubal Claudius Enjoy a Triumph Capture of New Carthage Scipio Sails to Africa Romans Set Fire to Camp Hannibal Leaves Italy The Battle of Zama Scipio Receives a Triumph Flamininus in Garlands Death of Hannibal Hatred of Cato for Carthage The Stern Decree Carthaginians Defend City Destruction of Carthage Cornelia, Mother of Gracchi Tiberius and Octavius Death of Tiberius Gracchus Death of Gaius Gracchus The Gold of Jugurtha Marius Wins Notice of Scipio Marius Becomes Commander Capture of Treasure Towns Capture of Jugurtha Jugurtha Brought to Rome Marius Conquers Teutones Marius Mocks the Ambassadors Metellus Driven from Rome Sulla Enters Rome The Flight of Marius Gaul Dares Not Kill Marius Marius Returns to Rome The Orator Aristion Sulla Besieges Athens Sulla Fights the Samnites The Proscriptions of Sulla The Gladiators' Revolt The Pirates Pompey Defeats Mithridates Cicero Discovers Conspiracy Death of the Conspirators Caesar Captured by Pirates Caesar Gives up Triumph Caesar Praises Tenth Legion Caesar Wins a Great Victory Caesar Invades Britain Caesar Crosses Rubicon Caesar and the Pilot The Flight of Pompey Cato Dies Rather than Yieldr Caesar is Loaded with Honours Nobles Plot against Caesar The Assassination of Caesar Brutus Speaks to Citizens Antony Speaks to Citizens The Second Triumvirate Battle of Philippi Death of Brutus Antony and Cleopatra Battle of Actium Antony and Cleopatra Die Emperor Augustus

Story of Rome - Mary Macgregor

The Friend of the People

Ten years after the decemvirs had been banished, there was a severe famine in Rome. The misery was terrible—men, women, and little children were dying in hundreds for lack of bread.

Faint and stricken, those who still managed to exist looked to the Senate for help.

So Minucius was appointed Master of the Markets, and did his utmost to succour the people, buying large supplies of corn from foreign countries and selling it to them for a small sum.

Should a family be found to have in its possession more corn than it needed for a month, Minucius ordered the surplus to be sold to those who were starving. Slaves were put on the smallest possible allowance of food.

But, in spite of the efforts of Minucius, the misery in the city was but little less than before. The poor still suffered the awful pangs of hunger, and many threw themselves into the river Tiber to escape from their desperate plight.

When the famine was at its height, Mælius, a rich plebeian, full of pity for the suffering he saw on every side, sent to Etruria for large quantities of corn and divided it among the ravenous folk.

Sometimes he gave his bounty freely, at other times he took a small sum of money for his goods.

The patricians, who, needless to say, were not starving, were not pleased to hear of the generous gifts of Mælius. Instead of being glad that the poor hungry people were being fed, they murmured that he was doing what Minucius had been appointed to do. The truth was, that the patricians were seized with an ugly passion called jealousy, and the more the people showed their gratitude to their benefactor, the angrier, the more jealous grew the patricians.

It was certain that Mælius was trying to win the favour of the people for his own ends, said his enemies one to the other. What was his ambition, they wondered, and how could they thwart it?

Minucius, who was more suspicious of the good plebeian than any one else, informed the Senate that Mælius held secret meetings in his house, where he had concealed a large number of arms. Moreover, he declared that Mælius had bribed the tribunes, and soon the Republic would be overturned, while the traitor would reign as king.

The Senate, alarmed by such a report, did not stay to find out if it were true or false, but at once determined to elect a Dictator.

Cincinnatus was once again entreated to leave his plough, to come to Rome and save his country.

So, lest his country should be betrayed by the honest plebeian, Cincinnatus hastened to the city, and appointing one named Ahala master of the horse, bade him summon Mælius to the Forum. Here the Dictator awaited the traitor, sitting on his tribunal.

Mælius knew all that had been said against him, and not wishing to be accused of treason, he refused to go with Ahala, and appealed to the people he had helped to support him.

But Ahala, furious that the plebeian dared to ignore his summons, drew a dagger and stabbed Mælius to death.

The people, horrified at the fate of their friend, rushed to the Forum and demanded that the Dictator should punish Ahala.

But this Cincinnatus refused to do, saying that even if Mælius had not been guilty of treason, yet he had deserved death for disobeying the command of the Dictator.

Too weak from want of food to persist that their benefactor should be avenged, the people, so some stories tell, soon grew quiet, for Minucius promised that the corn still stored at the house of Mælius should be sold to them at a low price.

But other stories say that the people refused to be satisfied until they had driven Ahala from the city.

It was in such selfish, wicked ways that the patricians sought to ruin the plebeians when they saw them gaining power and influence in the State.